Character: “Our guardian against temptation… Our catapult to greatness.” (Moi) While The JV level of Brother’s Keeper (BK) is pretty much guardian-centered, the varsity level is all about the catapult.
Historically, there have been two timeless stumbling blocks for Hyde students. The first has to do with the difficulty teenagers tend to have with accepting the simple fact that life is hard. It can be tough coming to terms with the notion that sometimes you really do have to…
– Show up places on time;
– Take boring courses;
– Tolerate teachers you dislike;
– Conserve your spending money;
– Get rejected by romantic interests… And so on.
I’ve always liked what Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) reportedly said to a whining granddaughter: “If you would only accept the fact that life is difficult, it would be so much easier for you.” Not only is that one a timeless struggle for many a Hyde student, it’s not all that easy for the individual charged with being the teacher of such lessons.
The other, and the bigger of the two Hyde stumbling blocks, is BK. Part of the problem is that one’s initial interface with the concept is generally seen through the “guardian” lens: Either someone has engaged in inappropriate behavior… OR… Someone has witnessed same. Translated into (very) real Hyde terms: Either you’re going out to work… OR… You’re fearful of becoming a social pariah for causing someone else to do same.
As I said to the Bath seniors this week, that’s the JV level of BK. The varsity level is all about the “catapult.” I took their look of puzzlement as an opening to explain two ways that I benefited from BK when I was in their shoes as a Hyde senior (circa 1971-72).
The first was on the lacrosse field. After a strong junior season, I was looking to conclude my Hyde career on a very high note where I hoped to leave a legacy of some scoring records. My classmate Don Anderson ’72 was a great defenseman, a premier 3-sport athlete, and a good buddy. Here he is releasing a jump shot during a hoop game our senior year:
Not only was he a big, strong guy, he really used to work me over in practice senior year. One day, I said in exasperation, “Hey Donny, let’s relax a bit. We’re both starters with nothing more to prove to our coaches. Let’s save it for game day.” Not only did he say nothing in reply, if anything, he turned the intensity up a few notches.
Then halfway through the season it dawned on me that whenever I walked out on the field to begin a game, I had a powerful thought firmly planted in my head: Whoever this guy is who will be covering me today, I know he’s not as good as the guy I play against every day in practice. My confidence surged. I had the season of my life. I came to realize that Donny’s approach to practice brought out my best. That’s BK.
Given the above story, you could correctly assume that I pretty much saw myself as a jock. Then, in art class, a couple of classmates (Neil Alexander ’72 and Jeff Jennings ’72, both accomplished artists today) challenged me to take a risk with art. On face value, the challenge was simple enough: Create a piece of art and post it publicly for all to see. While Donny may have worked me over on the athletic field to an uncomfortable extent, Jeff and Neil’s challenge was way out of my comfort zone. And besides, those guys were good. For example, Jeff’s etching of the Umbrella Tree on the Mansion front lawn wound up being featured on the cover of our class yearbook. Check it out:
Anyway, that year in Ann Legg’s (excellent) art class, I experimented with pottery, sculpture, acrylics, charcoal, and watercolors. One Sunday afternoon, Jeff had the bright idea of going down to the basement of the Mansion to paint scenes of the boiler room. After a couple of hours, the intense heat — Maybe that’s why it’s called the boiler room? — had us stripped down to our boxer shorts. I wound up with this:
I’m not saying it’s good. I’m just saying that…
– I did indeed put it up for all to see;
– It felt good doing so;
– I would not have done it without those two guys pushing me;
– And, that’s BK.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld